Woman dies by suicide, kin seek case under MP religious conversion law
The family members of a 26-year-old woman who recently died by suicide in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal have sought a case against her partner under the newly enacted Freedom of Religion Ordinance 2020, alleging that he was forcing the woman to convert.
The Madhya Pradesh Dharmik Swatantrata (Freedom of Religion) Ordinance, 2020, came into effect on Saturday after the state government issued a gazette notification. The ordinance, which was signed by MP governor Anandiben Patel on January 7, prescribes a punishment of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of ₹50,000 for forcing women to change their religion.
The police said the woman died by suicide on Friday and had named the accused in a note. Superintendent of police, Bhopal (south), Sai Krishna Thota, said the accused has been booked under sections 376 (rape), 309 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Act.
The brother of the deceased, however, lodged a complaint with the police on Saturday, accusing the man of forcing his sister to convert for marriage. The brother also accused the man of sexually abusing the woman. “The man hid his religion from my sister as he introduced himself as Babloo. When she came to know about his religion, accused started harassing her. He forced my sister for conversion for marriage but she refused. He left her and also harassed her sexually and mentally,” said the brother.
The accused, meanwhile, told the police that he was in a relationship with the woman for the past eight years. He said the relationship ended with mutual consent due to opposition from their families and after his family fixed his marriage, said an officer familiar with the probe.
Deputy inspector general (DIG) of police, Bhopal, Irshad Wali said: “Police are investigating the case and taking legal opinion on how to register the case under sections of new MP Freedom of Religion Act 2020, which has a provision of imprisonment up to 10 years and fine up to ₹1 lakh for forcing anyone for conversion.”
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